Saturday, February 18, 2012

How To Play Video Games Without Going Bad

If you have been alive here on planet Earth for the last (oh, I don't know) decade or so, then you know that there have been and continue to be naysayers who claim that video games will ruin you.

The intellectual arguments that they have put forth allege that the games are "distracting," "expensive" and can become "addictive." (Wow.) Jon Henshaw, M.A., from familyresource.com writes that the wasted hours could be "harmful to relationships" and even "rob you of real life experiences."

Just as ardently, however - if not more so - proponents of game play have asserted the benefits of the sport, especially in the fantasy/role-playing genre.

In an online article entitled, "The Good Things About Video Games," the Media Awareness Network says gaming provides a fun and social form of entertainment where kids can become "comfortable with technology" while reinforcing "teamwork and cooperation when played with others."

While both of these groups probably have a point ("too much of a good thing can be bad" and "see the good in every bad situation"), I think moderation is key.

I think PC games are fun if they are in a genre I like. And they are challenging. They challenge my reflexes and hand-eye coordination as well as my math and reasoning skills.

If I spend about two hours a day, I find that I am more relaxed, feel better about myself (especially if I do well) and am better able to concentrate.

If I, however, spend less time, I struggle with restlessness and boredom. And, conversely, spending too much time leaves me feeling drained (and I usually start making a lot of really dumb mistakes).

But the thing that really irritates me is that many times these anti-gaming groups say that all video games are bad - "phooey."

That simply is not true. While it may be true of teen games like Warcraft, how could it possibly apply to Mario or Zelda? When anti-gaming zealots make such ridiculous claims, they lose any hint of credibility and my attention (and my dad's, too - he grew up on Mario)!

My advice: Set reasonable boundaries. It is no different from television. You would look stunned if your neighbors just threw out all their television sets because they did not like one of the channels.

Establish an acceptable amount of daily or weekly play, a rating or series within a genre and the location of your gaming unit (i.e., in the family room). That way everybody - parents, teacher and you - is winner!

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